Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Dinner: Mummy Dogs

Tonight I needed to make a quick dinner so that the girls could be out the door with face paint on to meet their friends by 6 o'clock. I went to (which seems to be getting a lot of air time on my blog lately. As I said, something about the fall and cooking. Hmmm... That could actually explain the struggle to get into my jeans today...) and looked up Halloween food and found the perfect recipe. (Click here for the full recipe.) Mummy dogs could not have been easier to make and the girls loved them!

It's always good to serve organic hot dogs on Halloween, before you allow your kids to eat 5 lbs of high fructose corn syrup and red #40...

Evie, the green crayon, helped make the mummy dogs.

Aren't they cute?

I have to admit, this guy was my favorite. Lucy looked at this picture and said, "I feel so sad! He's in my belly now!'

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Noni, Top Chef

Lately I've had a helper in the kitchen. Whether she's stirring a pot of red lentil soup or flattening some pizza dough, Noni has taken a sudden interest in cooking. If I'm making a recipe that is too complicated for a three-year-old helper (she still has some work to do on cracking eggs), we pull her plastic kitchen set into the hall and she keeps me company by coming up with her own make-believe creations while I cook.

I give Monica Wellington the credit for Noni's newfound interest. Wellington is the author of a series of books about young entrepreneurs and many of them are in the business of making and selling food. Whether we're reading about Suzette selling crepes or Annie selling apples or Sally selling pizzas, Noni loves her stories.

You can check out the recipes from her books on her website (click here). Noni's favorite is the pizza recipe, which we altered only slightly by using 1/2 whole wheat flour and adding olive oil.

If you have a little chef in your own kitchen, I suggest you check out Wellington's books.

Chef Noni in her apron

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fat Squirrels

Today Noni and I came home to three squirrels on the front porch eating the pumpkins. It might be time to invest in a fake Jack'o'lantern:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Autumn Baking & Cooking

I love this time of year. Boulder doesn't quite offer the fall splendor of the Mid-Atlantic or New England, but we still have some changing color and the weather lately--sunny, dry, high sixties--has been perfect. This morning, Toby and I biked up past Bald Mountain to see the damage done by the fires and were amazed at the size of the charred valley. Our ride up, however, provided views of yellow and orange trees with a blue sky and snow-capped mountains as a backdrop. It was a perfect way to start a fall day.

During the summer, I am usually uninspired to cook. I'll throw something on the grill and make a side salad and then repeat the following evening. But the cooler weather has motivated me to try some new recipes and I thought I'd share some that we've been enjoying lately here (courtesy of Enjoy!

Easy & Delicious Pumpkin Soup

  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/2 cups cubed fresh pumpkin
  • *2 small potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 5 whole black peppercorns


  1. Cut pumpkin into 1/2-inch cubes.
  2. Heat stock, salt, pumpkin, potatoes, onion, thyme, garlic, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered.
  3. Puree the soup in small batches (1 cup at a time) using a food processor or blender.
  4. Return to pan and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Stir in heavy cream. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.

* not in the original recipe, but I felt they made the soup a better consistency (thicker).


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup all-purpose)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine the egg, oil, yogurt and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in bananas and chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts


  1. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Combine the egg, oil, milk, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in zucchini, chocolate chips and walnuts. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done.

Happy fall!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hanging Out in South Carolina

To Hang out: verb, informal: to spend time in a certain location or with certain people; to spend time doing nothing in particular

I spent most of my college years hanging out with my friends. There were the occasional breaks to study or to endure the freezing cold sprint from the dorm to the gym for a game of racquetball or to go to a party or bar, but we spent most of our time in our dorm room just talking, and maybe drinking a beer or eating from the giant bowl of M&Ms on our living room table (no wonder we all a little pudgy).

When you're a parent, spending time "doing nothing in particular" doesn't seem to happen so much anymore. When you're at home, there are dishes to be washed and floors to be swept and toys to be put away. And if you decide to spend a few hours ignoring all that and hanging out on the couch, you do it knowing that destruction is occurring as you sit -- you're likely to find that as you relaxed, your daughters spilled a can of paint on the floor or made a giant fort out of cardboard and cushions in the basement.

This is why it is of utmost importance to get away every once in a while. Not just for a date night, but for a real full weekend break. And last weekend, we did. My mom watched the girls (thank you!!) and Toby and I headed to South Carolina for our friend Jeremy's wedding, where we spent the weekend hanging out on the beach in 75 degree sunny weather. I have so many wonderful memories from the weekend -- sitting on the front porch while Toby and Parzych played guitar, lounging on the beach with friends, catching up with friends I haven't seen in years, walking under the stars along the beach at night and spotting glow-in-the-dark ghost crabs, kayaking through the marshes with Toby. The beauty of the weekend was both spending time with friends I haven't seen in far too long and just doing whatever we felt like doing whenever we felt like doing it.

It's not easy to get away for the weekend, but last weekend we all talked about how we shouldn't wait for another wedding to all get together. I feel fortunate this fall -- we've had two wedding weekends already and I am meeting up with college friends again in Boston in November. But normally my life doesn't include so many weekends away and this past weekend was a good reminder that it is worth the effort to make sure it happens more often. Because, while we were probably excessive in our lounging around in college, it turns out that spending a weekend just hanging out with your friends is really good for your soul.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

2010 Boulder 1/2 Marathon: A Review

Today, after a two week delay due to the fires, I finally ran the Boulder half marathon. It was a beautiful morning, sunny and cool. The course couldn't have been better--thirteen point two miles on dirt roads that wind through horse ranches and cow pastures, ending and starting at the reservoir, with a view of the mountains the whole way.

Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling so great. I woke up with, um, digestive issues and struggled with stomach cramps during the whole run. It was one of those races where you debate just giving up and walking with every step. Not so fun. I probably would have given up and walked had it not been for my family coming to watch. When I reached the six mile point, they all cheered me on. I ran the next two miles with the thought of Lucy in my mind -- waving her spider-monkey arms, yelling "Go Mama!" and giving me a big hug when I ran past her. When I crossed them again at mile eight, she ran out to give me a huge smile and hand me a Gatorade. Then Toby joined me for the rest of the run. You might think joining in for the last five miles of a thirteen mile race isn't such a huge deal, but I couldn't help but appreciate his effort. I wasn't sure he'd follow through, as he spent the prior evening attending the CU game and then celebrating their victory. But he made it (albeit a little hungover) and, if he hadn't joined me, I am not sure I would've run the whole thing.

With a time that was nine minutes slower than the last half marathon I did, it wasn't exactly the best race I've ever run, but I am still glad I did it. I am thankful for all of the beautiful mountain trail training runs leading up to it (and also grateful that the coyote I kept seeing on my morning runs was, in fact, a coyote and not a mountain lion as I imagined every time). Also, despite my less than stellar day on the roads, it is a beautiful, well-organized run. Hopefully my family is up for cheering me on again, as I'll probably torture myself with it again next year!